Whenever you spot a potential PR opportunity, you need to have a pitch ready in order to be able to make contact right away. It is advisable to keep an easily accessible basic draft of your pitch on your desktop or in your email outbox and adapt it as needed to suit new PR opportunities.
If you’re not feeling creative, check out Buzzuka.com. Enter a few details such as target audience, your unique selling point and the services you provide, and Buzzuka will churn out a tailor-made pitch that you can tweak to your liking.
You can also hire a professional copywriter or PR consultant to write your basic pitch, but of course this can cut into your budget.
Before you start, create a list of contacts at your preferred media outlets. This list should form your foundation in addition to any ad hoc opportunities that may arise through online communities or ‘source websites’. You can research the publications of your choice and manually put together a list of contacts, i.e. editors, bloggers, etc. including their contact details, and engage with them on social media before pitching to them.
Alternatively, it’s also possible to buy complete lists of media contacts. Companies such as Handle Your Own PR sell lists of media contacts around the world, but especially for the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand markets. These lists have the advantage that they are pre-qualified and sorted by region, country, sector and medium. For example, Small Business Media, National Radio, National Business Press, etc. Although a fee is involved, purchasing a pre-qualified list may ultimately save you money as you won’t have to spend a lot of time searching and compiling your own list of contacts. So you will need to decide which solution is more economical and useful for your purposes.
Once you have identified a suitable PR opportunity, make sure you’re quick off the block. Pull out your prepared pitch and adapt it to the specific request at hand.
• Don’t pitch anything that’s not related to what was asked for or your pitch is sure to end up in the bin. • Read the requirements carefully and provide exactly the information that was requested. The last thing you want to happen is your fantastic pitch being dismissed simply because you didn’t follow instructions. • Keep it succinct and to the point. No journalist wants to scroll down several times until they get to the relevant information. Two or three paragraphs should suffice. • Always include your contact information. You don’t want your perfect pitch to get lost in cyberspace simply because you forgot to add your contact details and the journalist has no means of getting in touch with you.
10 tips for writing the perfect pitch
So what should you bear in mind when crafting that perfect pitch?
1. Find out the editor’s name and include a personal note with your pitch. A personal touch may just give you the edge over other submissions.
2. Capture the recipient’s attention by including a newsworthy, compelling or particularly interesting piece of information about your topic in the first paragraph and using a strong headline. Quote experts or refer to statistics to back up your claims. Make them want to find out more.
3. Provide some entertaining or interesting examples of the point you are making. For example, list a couple of success stories demonstrating how poor translations caused a company to suffer major image and subsequent financial losses, or how your translations have boosted a company’s international reputation and turnover. (It’s always useful to have client testimonials and figures at the ready to substantiate your claims.)
4. Demonstrate that you are familiar with that particular media outlet and show that you know what they would and wouldn’t publish. Of course, this means doing some legwork to find out all the necessary details beforehand. But this will instantly set you apart from competitors who may pitch blindly without first familiarising themselves with the journalist and publication in question.
5. Keep your pitch brief and don’t exceed one page at the most. If the recipient wants more information, they will let you know. Use up to four short sentences per paragraph.
6. If possible, offer a couple of different angles to your story to help the journalist envision how they may use your story. For example, demonstrate how multilingual communication makes the world go round and is indispensable in all other industries – after all, customers only buy what they understand. Or provide details of a brand name that caused a company embarrassment in other countries as it was not localised and sufficiently researched (the famous soft drink that claimed to bring Chinese consumers’ ancestors back from the grave springs to mind!).
7. This should be obvious, especially when pitching as a language professional, but always spell-check and proofread your work before you submit it. Twice! And then again. There’s no second chance to make a first impression, and typos or sloppy grammar will instantly disqualify you as a credible language expert.
8. Include a link to your media kit or press page on your website to make life easy for the journalist.
9. Don’t forget your complete contact details. (It’s all happened before!)
10. Wait at least one week before following up with the recipient. But by all means do follow up – a courteous, non-pushy follow-up call or email will again score brownie points and give you an edge over the competition who may submit a pitch and then sit idle.